Afridi takes four wickets, Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 11 runs

Saturday, February 26, 2011

COLOMBO - Captain Shahid Afridi cast a spell taking four wickets as as Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 11 runs in a World Cup Group A match at the R Premadasa Stadium here Saturday.

Electing to bat, Pakistan put on 277/7 with Misbah-ul-Haq (83 not out) and Younis Khan (72) leading the charge.

Afridi (4-34) then followed up his five wicket haul against Kenya with another stellar performance with the ball. He provided the breakthroughs whenever the team nedded them. Sri Lanka nedded 18 runs from the last over and could reach 266/9 in 50 overs.

Comeback fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar (2-42), Umar Gul (1-60) and spinner Mohammad Hafiz (1-33) gave good support to Afridi, who excelled on a slow wicket.

Sri Lanka made a good start with Upul Tharanga (33) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (41) scoring 76 runs in 14.2 over. But they fell in quick succession. Haffez removed Tharanga and Afridi got rid the dangerous Dilshan.

Mahela Jayawerdena was bowled by a incoming Akhtar delivery and Thilan Samaraweera fell to Afridi.

Kumar Sangakkara (49) and Chamara Silva (57) added 73 runs for the fifth wicket. The Sri Lankan captain was dismissed by Afridi as he went to accelerate and holed out in the deep. Chamara took 115 balls and was never comfortable against the spinners. He batted for a while but Pakistan bowlers by then had the match in their grip.

Pakistan could have had Sri Lanka bowled out much earlier but for the fielding mishaps. They dropped some sitters and wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal had a bad day behind the stumps.

Earlier, Misbah, the Pakistan vice-captain, struck his second consecutive fifty in the tournament - while Younis Khan followed his 50 against Kenya in Hambotata with a 76-ball 72.

The senior duo put on 108 off 123 balls for the fourth wicket to give Pakistan a respectable total to defend.

Pakistan was placed at 105-3 when Misbah joined Younis and together they made good use of the middle overs.

The Pakistanis, however, failed to make the most of the last 10 overs including the batting power-play as they were tied down by veteran spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and Nuwan Kulasekera.

Murali, playing his last World Cup, finished with impressive figures of 1-35 in his ten overs. He gave away just five in his last two overs during batting powerplay. Fast bowler Kulasekera, too, was impressive as he bowled several dot balls during the death overs.

For Pakistan, Kamran Akmal scored 39 off 48 balls while opener Hafeez chipped in with a 31-ball 32. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who replaced Ajantha Mendis, picked up 2-46 while Thisara Perera finished with 2-62.

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